Nairobi’s bid to rein in $104m rate defaulters with GIS map thwarted

Nairobi’s bid to rein in $104m rate defaulters with GIS map thwarted

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A project by the Nairobi City Council in Kenya to raise Ksh8 billion ($104m) annually in rates from an estimated 500,000 properties and parcels of land in the city is now in doubt following a government crackdown on surveyors it accuses of using data obtained unlawfully. Under the project, which the World Bank is financing through the International Development Association, the cash-strapped council had contracted Geomap Africa Ltd, a leading land surveying firm to identify and log all rateable properties in the city into a GIS. This would have made it possible for City Hall to identify and zone all land parcels in the capital and come up with an updated property index which it would use to collect rates.

According to a document prepared by the council’s Assistant Town Clerk, P. M. Kamau, City Hall currently collects revenue from only 100,000 ratable properties compared to the more than 300,000 recorded by the Director of Surveys and the Commissioner of Lands. This gives the council only an estimated Ksh1.2 billion ($15.5m), which it claims is not enough to clear garbage, repair the city’s potholed roads, provide street lights, ensure continued water supply, improve its rundown schools and clinics and clear illegal developments. But whether the project will now progress has been put in doubt by a new order by the Director of Survey, Kombo Mwero banning surveyors from using government-owned databases and maps in private projects.